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Proposal Guidelines: Academic Books


  • Electronic submission is preferred, but paper proposals are acceptable.
  • If this is an electronic submission, please submit files formatted in Microsoft Word 2010 or later.
  • Do not send the complete manuscript instead of a proposal.
  • Please understand that it can take two months or more to evaluate your proposal.
  • Please indicate if you are sending the proposal to other publishers.
  • Paulist Press does not publish dissertations without significant revision.
  • If this is an unsolicited paper proposal, you must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive a reply. If you want your proposal returned, you must include sufficient postage.

Your book proposal should include the following elements:

1. Title of the book. Include the tentative title and subtitle for your book.

2. Author contact information. Please include your name, mailing address, email address, and phone numbers. Attach a current CV that details your present position, educational background, and previous publications, with special emphasis on your qualifications to write the book you are proposing.

3. Book description. In 200–250 words, describe your book. What is its nature, focus, purpose, or argument? What is its central thesis? If you were writing the back cover copy or a description for our catalog, what would you say to convince a potential reader to buy this particular book?

4. Annotated Table of Contents. Provide the working Table of Contents for your book, chapter by chapter. (If there are several parts or sections, group the chapters into those parts.) Beneath each chapter, include a brief (100-word) description of the chapter's contents. This summary should explain the focus and development of the chapter and indicate how it advances the argument of the whole book.

5. Audience. This section will give your insights into two basic questions:

  • Why is your general topic important to readers, and why do you think there is a market for another book on this topic?
  • For what level of audience is this specific book written? Is it accessible enough for an undergraduate readership, or more specialized? Does the book have potential for course adoption? If so, for which courses? What journals are read by academics who might buy this book?

6. Author involvement. Please detail the ways in which you plan to promote the book to potential buyers. Consider the following:

  • In what academic organizations do you exercise leadership?
  • Will you pursue getting your book to be the topic of discussion for a conference session at AAR, SBL, or others?
  • Where have your previous books been reviewed?
  • Who might provide endorsements or a foreword for your book?
  • Do you have media contacts that will be helpful in promoting this book?
  • Do you blog or have a social media presence?

7. Competition: Please describe a few—at least five—competing and complementary titles on this topic, giving publisher and year. What does your book offer that these others do not? How will your book be superior to or different from them?

8. Manuscript length: What is the estimated word count for the proposed book? (Base your calculation on approximately 300 words per double-spaced page in 12-point Times New Roman).

9. Date of completion: Indicate the date by which you expect to submit a completed manuscript.

10. Sample pages. Enclose a sample of 15–25 pages, perhaps of the introduction and a sample chapter, which shows your writing style in the book. These should be pages that are typical of the book as a whole, especially critical to your argument, or that give a good overview of the book.